Category Archives: House Project

Boilers and cylinders

I’m beginning to think that I should include the word ‘occasional’ in my blog header – despite the fact that life feels very settled at the moment, I seem to have less and less time to write. Having said that, there’s plenty of exciting stuff keeping me busy – not least the House Project!

I rather naively thought that with planning permission in place, and having chosen a builder, that we’d be done and dusted and painting our new bedroom by now. However, I should probably learn to accept that a) life does not move at the speed of Michelle, as much as I would like it to, and b)a rather large water tank in our loft right where our bed should be will definitely present a holdup.

I have of course known about the tank since the start of the journey but had long ago parked it in the corner of my brain reserved for ‘obstacles too big to think about right now’.  It’s a pretty useful corner actually – all sorts of stuff gets dumped there when I’m facing down a large project at work or home;  very often, by the time the obstacle needs to be dealt with it’s either disappeared, or morphed into something more manageable. However it seems that fully plumbed in and functioning water tanks do not fall into either of these categories – who knew? Not me!

There was no getting away from the fact that we needed a plan, and probably a better one than simply getting a really high bed and leaving the tank in situ underneath it, so I’ve been busy trying to figure out the best thing to do.

Initially it looked like changing our condensing boiler to a combi would be the best option. That way we could lose the tank and also lose our hot water cylinder that sits in a cubby hole in the kitchen. This would give us more space when we eventually start reconfiguring downstairs, so did seem an attractive option to start with – but ouch, new boilers are expensive! And despite what the manufacturers say, I hear lots of grumbles from people who have combis about the shower going freezing because someone’s doing the washing up. (If only someone EVER did the washing up!)

Then I had a chat with my Dad who suggested simply changing the type of hot water cylinder we have to one which can operate on our existing boiler but from the mains, rather than via a tank. At over a grand, a new cylinder is not a cheap option but it’s certainly cheaper than a new boiler, and it also has the advantage of an immersion so if the boiler breaks down, we can have hot water independently until it’s fixed.

So I went shopping for a new cylinder this week. Not the most exciting shopping assignment I’ve ever had in my life, though probably the most expensive… *winces*  Here it is in all its glory – it looks very grand and hi-tech next to our existing cylinder (in the cupboard to the left) and it’s certainly a better size for a family of five.  The job of getting it plumbed in will soon be under way – thanks to my lovely and very patient Dad – and then we will finally be on the journey to our 4 bedroom house! Woop! More soon…

Boilers and cylinders
That’s the first grand of the budget spent, right there…


Planning Permission!

We’ve got planning permission! With no need to appeal, no conditions to speak of, none of the stuff which I’d convinced myself would go wrong. Whoop!

It’s been a while, I know. In fact it’s been so long since we started this process that Nadim, our architect, has relocated to London (rumours that this was to escape a particularly demanding client in the Canton area are unsubstantiated). I’m currently working on persuading him to take on the next stage all the way from London – I mean that’s gotta be an easy sell, right? Reconfiguring swanky city penthouse pads with mahoosive budgets  has got to be no fun AT ALL compared with working with an indecisive and neurotic forty something, on a rundown mid-terrace, with a heathy dose of First Great Western thrown in for good measure?

Anyways, I’m hoping that the time we have spent talking about what we want from the project and changing our minds about stuff and generally procrastinating over every little detail will stand us in good stead now we’re actually getting towards the building. Since we’ve discussed every single permutation of what’s possible, hopefully we can get right on without any last minute changes *stares ferociously at the Husband*

To recap, we are putting a bedroom and en suite in the loft, so we can move up there and the kids can then have a room each; we are carving a tiny separate study space out of what is now the main bedroom; and downstairs we are knocking down two walls and extending out into the side return, to give us a big family area as well as a separate living room (for grownups, ha!) instead of the four separate rooms we have at the moment.

It’s a pretty big project, and plan A was that we would move out for six months and get it all done at once, as well as some jobs that have needed doing for a while – resanding the floors, replacing some windows, sorting out the living room ceiling…I had this dream that I could pop back daily and project manage everything, and then we could move back in to a completely finished new house, and never have to lift a finger on dastardly decorating EVER AGAIN.

Alas for reality – basically, we need the extra bedroom much sooner than we would have it if we were to wait until we’d saved up enough to get everything done at once. So it’s Plan B – loft conversion and study asap, hopefully before my two younger kids do some real damage to each other, and that way we’ll at least have an extra room to live in upstairs when we get the really stressful work done in a year or two. And on the bright side, it gives me a bit longer to plan the layout of my new kitchen….

So. Next up – technical drawings and building control; picking a builder; thinking about the look of the new rooms (obviously BOHO CHIC, baby) and entering every competition under the sun that involves possibly winning furniture, bathroom kit, new boilers – or cold hard cash for that matter, I’m not fussy!

More soon…

It’s official – I am Mrs Boho Chic!

I know, I know, it’s been so long since I updated on the House Project that you all thought I’d given up on it…so did my poor architect I am sure (I am officially his longest running client – heck, he’s had time to design and build an entire CITY since the first time I first darkened his doors). But – big news – we have finally submitted our planning application!

With the planning process officially under way, I am now well into the much more exciting bit, of allowing myself to think about how we might decorate our new living space. I’m not great at style and colour at all – magnolia tends to be my default choice – and when we did the house up first time round I just went along with whatever the Husband wanted. It came out lovely, but over the years it’s bothered me more than I thought it would that none of the house has ‘my’ stamp on it. So this time round I am going to be brave and make sure that at least some of it is decorated it in my style!

My style. Now, where did I leave that? It’s round here somewhere, I know it…probably in the fridge with the car keys. Style? STYLE? Come to me, style….ah. Crap. Turns out I don’t have any. Not even a tiny bit.

Oh well, who needs style when I have the INTERNET?

*googles: what and more importantly WHERE is my style*

Phew! Back now! All my problems were solved by the  Great British Home Quiz from Victoria Plumb bathrooms. I did get a bit distracted by all the fab ideas and how-tos, as well as the lush bathroom products on the website but I did eventually take the quiz and – drum roll – it’s OFFICIAL – I am Mrs Boho Chic! Get me! I HAVE STYLE, PEOPLE! Apparently my style is most like Monica’s apartment in Friends – we’ll gloss over the fact that my personality is also as neurotic as Mrs Bing’s for the moment, and just keep celebrating the fact that I. HAVE. STYLE.  Yay!


(By the way, take the quiz and you could win £250 in John Lewis Vouchers, only DON’T, please, because I kinda fancy those vouchers all to myself)

So. I’m off to start a new BOHO CHIC (yeah baby) board on Pinterest and I might even go old school and start a scrapbook of TOTALLY BOHO CHIC design ideas! (Sorry, getting a bit over-excited about the fact that the internet says I have style….)

And as well as revelling in my new-found style, I suppose I should also start thinking about what should stay and what should go in terms of furniture and, well, just stuff that we seem to have accumulated. I will probably use the opportunity to have a huge clear out, though of course there will be some things that we fight over I can’t bear to get rid of – for example, one non-negotiable will be the shelf of 20 or so childhood books that I salvaged when my parents downsized. I KNOW – you’d think they would have had a bit more consideration than to downsize while I’m still VERY MUCH ALIVE, but downsize they did. Pah. Anyway. From the Wind in the Willows to the Railway Children, from I Am David to the two Narnia sets (the second bought when the first set were literally falling apart), the books on this shelf are part of me. I just can’t bear to see them go…but that’s ok, because if you google ‘shelf of old tatty much loved books’ you know what comes up first?


Yes! BOHO CHIC!  This couldn’t be more perfect if I’d made it up!*

I can see it now. ‘No, Husband, I’m really sorry but your childhood Lego creations/stamp collection albums/63 different Czech Language courses with LP included will have to go. We just don’t have the space, and you never use them any more’.

‘Well, Wife, you don’t read those books any more – in fact I happen to know they’re all on your Kindle in any case. So those could go too.’

‘Well, you see, I’m afraid I can’t get rid of them. It’s not about the sentimental value, it’s about the BOHO CHIC’.

Oh yes, I’m totally on to a winner here!**

*I did.

**I’m not.

This blog post is an entry into the Tots 100/Victoria Plum Shelfie competition – why not pop over and enter too?